King Agamemnon must give back his beloved Chryseis to her father, the priest of Apollo, in order to stop the plague. In exchange for his beloved, he took Briseis, the beloved of Achilles, in her place. This scene is the fourth in a series of eight oil sketches. In this depiction of the episode, the enraged Achilles is shown drawing his sword while being restrained by his hair by Minerva. Agamemnon is rising from his throne and is being restrained by his arm by the wise Nestor. After this episode, Achilles refused to take any further part in the war against Troy. Only after the death of his friend Patroclus did Achilles become reconciled with Agamemnon and return to the Greek army. This oil sketch is the fourth in a series of eight oil sketches which Rubens made about the life of Achilles in preparation for a series of tapestries. Rubens designed four series of tapestries, and all four were executed. That was an expensive and time-consuming procedure in which oil sketches like these were just the first step. They were followed by larger painted models, which preceded full-size cartoons for the weaver which were ten times the size of the initial sketches and were typically painted by assistants. It is hard to imagine that a project of that kind could be undertaken without a patron, but in three of the four cases we do not know who this was. The last series was made around 1630, and all eight of sketches have survived. Seven are in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. They chronicle the life of the Greek hero Achilles from his baptism in the Stynx, one of the legendary rivers of the underworld. That baptism would have made him immortal if his mother had not held him by the heel while immersing him. That proverbial unprotected Achilles' heel proved fatal, as can be seen in the eighth and last panel.


  • Title: The Wrath of Achilles
  • Creator: Peter Paul Rubens
  • Date: 1630 - 1635
  • Physical Dimensions: w46 x h44.8 cm (Without Frame)
  • Painter: Peter Paul Rubens
  • Original Title: Achilles vertoornd op Agamemnon
  • Artist Information: The Antwerp painter Peter Paul Rubens was appointed court artist to the Duke of Mantua in Italy at a young age. In 1603 he travelled to Madrid, where he was able to see the paintings of Titian and Raphael in the Spanish court. He subsequently travelled between 1604 and 1608 to Mantua, Rome, Genoa and Milan. He mainly studied the painters Titian and Michelangelo, and was very impressed by the work of Caravaggio, from whom he purchased a canvas. After returning to Antwerp, he worked until his death as court artist to the Spanish regents of the Netherlands. He built a house in Antwerp based on Italian villas, and started a flourishing studio. Countless artists, including such celebrities as Anthonie van Dijck and Jacob Jordaens, were trained in his studio. Rubens left much work to his assistants, but carefully oversaw everything. He was one of the most influential painters of his time and the greatest exponent of the Baroque in the north.
  • Provenance: Donated by D.G. van Beuningen 1933
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on Panel

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